Loanee shrugs off links

Lee Holmes has vowed to prove himself to those Pompey fans who choose to focus on his past.

The talented winger arrived on loan from Preston North End earlier this week with a mission to add balance, flair and work-rate to the Blues.

Lee Holmes hopes to make an impact with Pompey fans

Lee Holmes hopes to make an impact with Pompey fans

The Mansfield-born midfielder came through the ranks at Derby County and has since had several loan spells with a variety of clubs.

But there may be a small minority of Pompey fans who will instead highlight his four-year spell at bitter south coast neighbours Southampton.

Holmes, however, insists he has made the move to Fratton Park with his eyes wide open and is confident of showing there will be no split loyalties.

‘I didn’t really think about it, to be honest. I don’t think it really matters,’ said Holmes.

‘If you start turning things down because of the teams you have played for previously, then you start limiting yourself as a footballer.

‘It wasn’t even a question whether I was going to come here because I played there and wondering what the fans would be like.

‘There might be some fans who won’t accept it. But if I play well, work hard and give everything for the shirt, I hope most fans appreciate that.’

It’s certainly a positive attitude to an issue that has affected other players who have attempted to deal with the same switch.

And it’s not as if Holmes doesn’t know the intense rivalry between the clubs.

He came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute for Southampton as they were demolished 4-1 in the FA Cup clash at St Mary’s in February 2010.

And he was an unused substitute in the 1-1 hard-fought draw at Fratton Park in November 2011.

So Holmes has sampled the white-hot atmosphere and the animosity and ill-feeling that exists between certain sections of supporters on both sides.

‘I know the rivalry – I’ve experienced two derbies,’ he said.

‘I know how fierce it is. We heard some pubs were getting burnt out before games so I know the full extent of the rivalry, don’t worry about that.

‘I’ve been at clubs where players have come from that team’s rivals.

‘There have probably been players at clubs I have been at who have found it difficult coming from certain clubs.

‘But sometimes they are loved a bit more when they have moved from the other club because they have left and come to the right side.’

Holmes, however, also understands the stature of Pompey and is determined to play his part for the duration of his stay.

‘Everyone knows that this club should be higher – in the Premier League or the Championship,’ added Holmes.

‘You only have to look at the paper and see 15,000 people turning up every week to watch to know that it’s a massive club.

‘It wasn’t a hard decision to drop down.

‘As a footballer, you want to play at the highest level you possibly can.

‘But coming here and walking down the tunnel and down the pitch, you realise that this is not a League Two club.

‘So I want to play well, play with a smile on my face and enjoy my football.’